Business confidence in the Northern region fell dramatically in the latest Chamber of Commerce Survey.
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce CEO David Burnett suggested there were reasons for concern.
"You could blame it on seasonal issues like winter or on the uncertainty imposed by the general election but there are worrying indicators in play" said Mr Burnett.
• 29 per cent of firms suggested they were having difficulties getting the right people with the right skills.
• 7 per cent of firms were having difficulty attracting unskilled labour.
• Access to finance and investment continues to be a challenge for some businesses.
• Exporters maintained the high dollar was denying them international opportunities.
• The biggest issue constraining growth in the region was demand, which was flowing through to lower intentions to employ, fewer hours to be worked and lower profitability.
Each of these factors were constraints to growth on their own and the skills issue needed attention from both business and Government, the Chamber suggested.